Prime Minister Scott Morrison's offer to compensate volunteer firefighters for lost income seems rushed and discriminates against those battling fires outside NSW, says a Queensland fire boss.
Many volunteers would not qualify for the scheme and money would be better spent to replace an ageing fleet of fire trucks, according to Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland president Ian Pike.
Mr Morrison announced on Sunday that NSW volunteer firefighters could get up to $6000 if they are called out for more than 10 days and are self-employed or work for small and medium businesses.
The payments will be equivalent to 20 days of emergency leave for the eligible volunteers and are tax-free and retrospective for the financial year.
Mr Morrison extended the scheme to other states and territories who wished to participate, with the federal government setting aside $50 million for the purpose.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the state would accept the offer on Monday.
Mr Crawford said the plan should have been discussed with all states.
He said he thought the scheme should be extended to all firefighters regardless of how many hours worked this season.
"I think they should just cast a net across the entire organisation and any volunteer who has done a shift this season just get $6000," Mr Crawford said on Monday.
'I think that's an easier way to do the maths."
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Sunday denied reports she had refused the offer and said she would be writing to Mr Morrison about it.
"Queensland's volunteer firefighters deserve the same level of federal government support as do other volunteer firefighters across the country," she said.
Mr Pike said most Queensland volunteers would not qualify for the payment and they would prefer money was spent on better equipment.
"I think it's just a pretty quick decision that hasn't been thought out too well," Mr Pike told AAP of the compensation plan.
He said those in his organisation preferred to volunteer.
"That's been the way in the past, we've always said, 'no we don't want to be paid, we're just here to protect our community'," Mr Pike said.
He said Queensland's ageing fleet of fire trucks was an issue as fires worsened.
About 50 fire trucks were approaching or were more than 20 years old, he said.
"We're losing ground with things like that, whereas the fires are getting worse - fires are a lot faster moving with drier conditions," he said.
"The technology in the trucks has improved 100 per cent."
He said the federal compensation plan was not tailored to each state.
"It's a bit discriminating against firefighters in other states who do the same job," Mr Pike said.
"I'd prefer to see Scott Morrison step up to the plate with more money for the states to provide better equipment and more modern equipment and keep it up to date."
Victorian Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said her state's volunteers had made similar comments calling for money to be spent on resources for their fire crews.
"For some it's seen as a bit of a slap in the face. That's not what they want," Ms Neville said.
Australian Associated Press
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